3 Capitals With The Most To Prove In 2023-24

The Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time in a long time as injuries piled up and the East was stacked. They are coming back with a fairly similar roster, but the players who are the focus here are three that need to either prove they are worth the money they're receiving or can replicate last season's success.

Anthony Mantha

The downfall of Anthony Mantha has been clear since he joined the Capitals as he has never been the right fit. The team has tried to make due, but nearly gave up last season when the $5.7 million AAV player was even a healthy scratch at times. It doesn't seem like he will be given a fresh start elsewhere this season, so he and the Capitals are hoping that he will be able to step up and be the player he is expected to be for the final year in Washington.

Darcy Kuemper

Darcy Kuemper had some very good games and some poor stretches last season for the Capitals, but it's not all on him. The defense, like the entire team, was ravaged by injuries. Regardless, he did have a down year in his first after signing a big five-year, $5.25 million AAV contract. The team has to count on him to be the starter, but can he bounce back and put up better numbers like we've seen throughout his career. A .908 save percentage will not be good enough in the Eastern Conference after he finished three of the last four seasons before that with a .921+ SV%.

Rasmus Sandin

Rasmus Sandin is a young player with a lot of potential and the Toronto Maple Leafs couldn't give him the opportunity to reach that potential. At the perfect time, the Capitals used one of their multiple first rounders at last season's trade deadline to bring him in. This gave him a great opportunity to play on the power play while there were injuries and players moved out in trades. The Capitals did add some more defensemen and John Carlson is expected to be healthy and on the top power-play unit, so the big question is if Sandin can replicate the success he had in 2022-23 without as big of an offensive role all season.

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